U.Va.'s Martin Luther King Remembrance to Feature Civil Rights Reconciliation Film

Listen to the UVA Today Radio Show report on this story:

January 19, 2010 — The University of Virginia's Luther P. Jackson Black Cultural Center will show and discuss the film, "Closer to the Truth," on Jan. 25 to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The event is planned for a week after the official holiday to coincide with the beginning of U.Va.'s spring semester.

The documentary, which covers the first Truth and Reconciliation Commission of its kind held in the United States 25 years after what is now known as "The Greensboro Massacre," will be screened in the auditorium of the Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature and Culture/Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at 4 p.m. A panel discussion will follow.

Independent filmmaker Adam Zucker, who made the documentary, will participate, along with Holly Edwards, vice mayor of Charlottesville, and H. Timothy Lovelace, a graduate of U.Va.'s College of Arts & Sciences and School of Law, who is currently at work on a doctorate in history and is assistant director of the Center for the Study of Race and Law at the Law School.

The film follows the work of the commission, convened in Greensboro, N.C., in 2004 to investigate and seek resolution 25 years after the incident known as the "Greensboro Massacre."

The incident took place on Nov. 3, 1979, when a multiracial group of the Communist Workers Party held an anti-Ku Klux Klan rally in Greensboro. Klansmen and members of the American Nazi Party arrived and started shooting from their cars, killing five people. Although tipped off that the groups intended to disrupt the rally, police did not arrive until afterward.

Though local television news crews filmed the violence, no one was ever convicted of the murders.

"Greensboro: Closer to the Truth" reconnects the players in this tragedy 25 years later – widowed and wounded survivors, along with their attackers – and chronicles how their lives have evolved since the tragedy. As the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission struggles to uncover what actually happened and why, the participants confront the truth of their past and struggle with the possibility of hope and redemption.

The Closer to the Truth Project uses the film as a springboard for communities to pursue local efforts on justice and reconciliation.

"This film combines a way of talking about the rights of individuals as laborers, but also what we need to do to heal wounds in regards to race relations in America," said Dion Lewis, director of the Luther P. Jackson Black Cultural Center, which is part of the Office of African-American Affairs.

Sponsors include U.Va.'s Office of African-American Affairs, Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Equity, Carter G. Woodson Institute, U.Va. libraries, Active Voice, U.Va. Institute for Environmental Negotiation and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.

For information, contact Dion W. Lewis at 434-924-7923 or www.virginia.edu/oaaa/.

— By Anne Bromley